Enara Bio is an Oxford-based company pioneering an exciting new approach to the development of immunotherapies for cancer. The company is exploring the hidden depths of cancer biology and examining both sides of the T-cell/cancer cell interface (the “immune synapse”) to discover and characterise novel targets for the development of immunotherapies. Such targets include Dark Antigens™, which are derived from the genomic dark matter, and cancer-specific antigens presented by MHC class 1 related protein, MR1.
MR1 is a non-classical MHC that interacts with bacterial and mucosal antigens which, if detected by CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, can result in selective killing of cancerous cells. However, MR1 has low expression levels at the cell surface making it difficult to detect and research in vivo.
To help elucidate Dark Antigen and MR1 cancer associated peptides, Enara connected with Dr Nicola Ternette to take advantage of her complementary expertise in immunopeptidomics.
Dr Ternette heads up the antigen discovery group at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Medicine. Her group analyses major histocompatibility complex (MHC) associated peptides via liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to separate and identify peptides of interest in pathogen infection models, solid tumours, haematological cancers and autoimmune disease.
The state-of-the-art analytical chemistry techniques are ideally suited to the discovery of the Dark Antigens and MR1-presented cancer ligands that Enara is translating into potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of cancer.
Enara Bio CEO Kevin Pojasek commented “Our approach to the discovery of novel targets for cancer immunotherapy is taking us in new directions and benefitting from strong collaborations with scientists at the cutting edge. We are delighted to be working with Dr Ternette and her group at Oxford University, whose expertise in mass-spectrometry and immunopeptidomics is proving important to the development of our platform for the discovery and validation of Dark Antigens and of unconventional, cancer-specific ligands presented by MR1.”
Dr Nicola Ternette sits on the Scientific Advisory Board for Enara and is a part-time employee of the company. For more information on Dr Ternette visit
Enara Bio is currently expanding and will soon be moving to larger premises at The Oxford Science Park. For more information on Enara Bio click here.